Film Talk

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Film school or outside experience? (2 replies and 4 comments)

2 months ago
shesoun 2 months ago


I am going to school at a small community college in Northeast Tennessee. We have a small TV production studio and I just finished my first semester there. It was my first time even touching a camera, let alone filming something. We just film small interviews or little weather forecasts, but the cameras are studio cameras. Sometimes it feels with the financial costs of film schools in the USA at least, it may be difficult to get into and I'm afraid of failing if I were to transfer to a large school. But my main question is, is it worth it to go to film school and learn cinematography or is it better to get experience outside of school and do more hands on work and learn yourself? How much has film school taught you about cinematography and how much did you learn outside of it? 

Jacob W.
2 months ago
Jacob W. 2 months ago

You're always going to get both sides of the spectrum on this question. Many successful filmmakers and cinematographers went to film school, and equally as many successful ones did not. It all depends on your own personal situation and desires.

Look into the archives of this forum for "film school" there should be lots of threads answering this specific question. I did not go to film school and I'm working in the industry.

No matter what though, schooling or no schooling, at the end of the day you will have to go out and make it yourself! Shoot your own films, make your own art!

2 months ago

Have you put film in that camera yet? We are all eagerly waiting for the results.

Jacob W.
2 months ago

This weekend!! First camera test Mike! I'm super excited. Also I posted a music video I shot about a month ago... I guess it went overlooked??

2 months ago

I don’t remember seeing a video post, perhaps we over looked it, so sorry!
Can you re- post it please. Good luck with your camera test. Don’t sprain your wrist winding that camera.

Jacob W.
2 months ago

hahahaha. Mike your humor never ceases to get my giggle. I sure won't. I'll repost it. Look out for it. Thanks

The Byre
2 months ago
The Byre 2 months ago

To go back to the original question -

But my main question is, is it worth it to go to film school and learn cinematography or is it better to get experience outside of school and do more hands-on work and learn yourself?

I work in audio and I believe that the situation there is very much the same as for film.  There is a handful - well, two handsful to be precise - on Planet Earth that are worth attending for an education in audio.  The rest are not worth anything.

Here in the UK, we have one or two places where students really do learn about A for V and have links to the film and music industries (for the record, Surrey Uni's Tonmeister course and the NFTS and LIPA is also pretty good).  There are however about 130 accredited colleges offering audio courses and we have even had some visit our studio and we have taken interns from Surrey and elsewhere.  

That means that in the UK alone, there are 2,500 to 3,000 graduates all looking for a handful of opportunities and fewer than 5% will succeed.

I believe that the situation in film and TV is even worse.  At least it is here.  Some of these colleges will even take students who do not have a high school diploma - it's all about money and little else!

The US government's largest current account asset is student debt.  Over one trillion dollars worth - and it is one of the very few debts that cannot be dissolved by bankruptcy.  It will stick to you like glue. 

I find that fact desperately sad.

My 30 cents worth to anyone unable to get into a top film school is to spend a small fraction of what you would have spent on college on some basic film gear and a fast PC and get going!  Find a niche that is under-served and make a film about that!

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